Want to get latex (acrylic or water-based) paint out of carpet, upholstery or any other kind of fabric — even old and dry latex? No problem!
If it is a fresh spill, remove as much as you can using paper towels or rags. Saturate the stain with lacquer thinner (not paint thinner, mineral spirits or anything else you might be tempted to substitute). Apply with a clean white cloth so there is no chance of transferring the color from the cloth to the item to be cleaned.
Allow it to sit for a few moments to soften the paint so you can scrape, blot and/or scrub it out with the application cloth. Depending on how old the paint stain is, you may have to repeat a couple of times, but it will come out without leaving a bigger problem in its wake. I don't know why this is such a favorite tip of mine. Maybe it's because it's such a dramatic rescue for a sloppy painter such as myself.
Caution: Lacquer thinner is highly combustible, so don't wad up that cloth and throw it in a bucket. Instead, allow it to air-dry, and then launder or dispose of it appropriately.
Every day, readers of this column send in their favorite tips. Here's a sampling for your reading pleasure:
HANDY ZIPPER PULL. The pull on the zipper of my snow boot broke, and I replaced it with a circle key ring. Now I can grab it when I'm wearing gloves. — Ronald
SEMI-HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS. I have a recipe for cinnamon rolls that everyone thinks is homemade but isn't. It only takes about 45 minutes to make from start to finish. I use two tubes of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls. Discard the frosting that comes with them, and arrange the rolls in a 9-by-13-inch pan (four down the middle and three on either side). Whisk together 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup heavy whipping cream, and pour over the rolls. Bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. That's it. They're amazing. Everyone thinks I've slaved all morning, and I'm not going to tell them otherwise! — Nancy
DISHWASHER IS A CLEAN-ALL. I use my dishwasher to clean lots of things. I just make sure to put most items on the top rack and secure the small items by fastening them with clothespins or placing them in baskets. I wash stove knobs, baby bottles, kitchen sink drain stoppers, small trash cans, kid toys and refrigerator shelves. I even wash diaper bags and baby bottle bags so the insides get clean and sanitized. I use the regular amount of automatic dishwasher detergent. It works better than any other cleaning method for just about anything I can fit in there. — Colleen
LIKE PEDIALYTE. At more than $5 per quart, Pedialyte (an over-the-counter product that contains balanced amounts of sugar and sodium to help prevent dehydration in adults and children caused by stomach flu, food poisoning and more) is not cheap! But making it yourself is. Here's how: Mix together 1 quart boiling water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon unsweetened Kool-Aid powder (or more, to taste). Keep refrigerated and use within a couple of days. —Tom (NOTE: Always consult with your health care professional before substituting a prescribed treatment with a homemade version.)
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.